It appears that Facebook is currently testing a way that circumvents Google Play Store for getting updates of the social network’s Android app. Dubbed ‘silent updates’, they install in the background when the Android device is connected to a Wi-Fi network. This means that users don’t get a notification that a new Facebook app update is available for download from Google Play Store. Instead the update is automatically downloaded and then the user is prompted to install said update. Users who have received these silent updates for the Facebook Android app say that the prompts for installing a silent update are persistent and don’t go away until the update is actually installed.
Facebook believes that silent updates are essential for making sure that users have the best version of their app. The last version of Facebook’s Android app came with a new permission to “download files without notification”. Many users were spooked when they first got prompted to install an already downloaded update and mistook it for malware. Now Facebook has a new section up on its Help Center to clarify that it is in fact sending out silent updates for its Android app.
There’s really no downside to these silent updates, and other apps like Chrome for desktop uses this system with great success. They’re only downloaded once a user connects to Wi-Fi, and it makes sure that everyone is on the latest version of the app, hence providing a consistent user experience across the board. Wonder if other app developers will follow suit?